Crisis communications is always in our job descriptions. But, I guess most of us who don’t work in the public relations department of Bernard Matthews, a UK leading provider poutry, are breathing a sigh of relief; what a stressful week it must have been for them.
The company culled 160,000 turkeys within 24-hours of the announcement of the outbreak of the H5N1 bird-flu virus. Swift action was called for and the company delivered.
Today’s Sunday Telegraph is running an in-depth story about the long-term effects such events can have on a brand. And those effects can indeed be very long-term. The article trots out the 1982 incident with Tylonal as the gold standard in reactive PR.
The story quotes Rita Clifton, the chairman of Interbrand, who advises companies in crisis to, “Firstly, acknowledge the issue, even if it is not your fault. Secondly, withdraw the product and go way beyond what you think is strictly necessary. And thirdly, communicate, communicate, communicate. Get the top people out there to explain the situation.”
I wonder if the folks at The Steam Packet Company will find this article to be interesting reading.